Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Coffin Maker / Magkakabaung (HIFF 2015) - Movie Review

The Coffin Maker, an award winning film directed by Jason Paul Laxamana, is an official selection of the Hawaii International Film Festival. The movie stars Allen Dizon, Gladys Reyes, Emilio Garcia, Chanel Latorre, Bor Ocampo, and Felixia Dizon.

The Story:
As a coffin maker, Randy (Dizon) is barely able to provide for himself and his eight year old daughter. When tragedy strikes, he struggles to deal with the loss of his daughter and the fact that he may have been responsible for her death. To make matters worse, he has no money to pay for the hospital bills and funeral expenses and finds himself struggling to come up with any solution.

The Review:
Jason Paul Laxamana has put together a dramatic motion picture that is filled with raw emotion and gritty performances that make you feel like you are experiencing every moment right along with each of the characters in the film. It's very interesting to see such a stark portrayal of life (and death) coming from a lower class neighborhood in the Philippines and the story is filled with commentary on economics, class structure, and how much of an impact all of it has on these small communities. With all of that going on, you would think the story would get real heavy handed in trying to deliver so many messages, but everything is told from such a personal perspective that really provides a good overall balance.

Allen Dizon, playing the lead and title role, delivers about as good of a performance as you could ever want or expect. Through everything that happens to his character, he maintains a stoic exterior although you can tell he might either fall apart emotionally or snap and do something drastic at any moment. What Dizon brings to the table as an actor is really the centerpiece and anchor for the entire production and it seems like Laxamana is well aware of this as he gives him every opportunity to shine.

The Verdict:
I've been pretty impressed with some of the stuff coming out of the Philippines lately and The Coffin Maker does nothing to change that opinion. Solid story that will tug at your emotions and a strong lead acting performance makes for a very entertaining drama and a worthy entry into the Hawaii International Film Festival.

The Coffin Maker screens during the Hawaii International Film Festival on Friday, November 20th at 3:00pm at the Doris Duke Theatre. CLICK HERE to view the film's official festival page.


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